juthwara: (reading)
Thanks for the recommendations in the previous post (and feel free to add to them)! I've been doing some web-surfing among book blogs as well, and since I've come up with a fairly long list, I'm putting it here for my memory and as a resource for anyone else looking for magical books in the 6-9 year old reading range.

Dorrie and the Witch series by Patricia Coombs

Lulu's Hat by Susan Meddaugh, author of the Martha Speaks series. It looks like several of her books have a magical theme

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

The dragons of Wayward Crescent by Chris D'Lacey

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris (good for those looking for books with non-helpless princesses too)

The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye

Secrets of Droon series by Tony Abbott

Ghostville Elementary series by Marcia Jones

No Flying in the House! by Betty Brock

On an odd tangent, I've discovered since I started cataloging regularly that I have a hard time remembering to capitalize words in a title when I'm not cataloging. Cataloging rules are very specific about punctuation and capitalization, and when you're cataloging, you only capitalize the first word and proper nouns. I also have a hard time remembering not to put a space both before and after colons and semicolons for the same reason.
juthwara: (reading)
I always feel a bit lazy soliciting book recommendations since I am a librarian, after all, and that's suppose to be my job. But one of my library school professors used to say that the most powerful reference tool is the telephone (and I suppose by extension these days, e-mail), so making use of the knowledge of others is a perfectly valid reference technique. Anyway:

Can you recommend any children's books that use magic, particularly where the children are doing the magic, for a six-year-old who isn't ready for something as scary as Harry Potter yet? I ask because I looked over at K the other night and she was brandishing a stick like a wand and attempting to make up incantations to make her brother disappear. My first thought was that we should start on Harry Potter, but she is very sensitive to scariness and danger. She's only very recently (as in, the past month) been willing to watch The Princess and the Frog and Tangled regularly, neither of which is all that scary but both have scary moments that were too much for her a year ago. I think she could take more scariness in books, but I think the highest level of scariness we could tolerate is the first Harry Potter. I think Narnia is an obvious suggestion, but again, probably too scary. I have a copy of Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, but I need to read it myself before I try it on K. So: books about kid magicians for the scaredy-cat?


Nov. 14th, 2008 09:06 pm
juthwara: (Default)
There are two things that tend to bug me when I read blogs. The first is people condemning out of hand something they haven't actually read or watched, from whim, prejudice or not wanting to take part in anything too popular.

Now I don't mean say, you don't want to watch a Jackie Chan movie because you haven't liked the martial arts films you've seen in the past. In that case, you've tried martial arts movies, and it's entirely reasonable that you wouldn't want to see something that falls in that category. However, if you happen to like martial arts movies but have never seen a Jackie Chan movie, I might find your proclaiming the suckiness of Jackie Chan and all of his works kind of annoying.

The second thing that irritates me is people explaining at length why they aren't going to take part in the latest thing, with the not too subtle subtext of "unlike the rest of you sheep." I mean, this October, I didn't feel the need to write about how I wasn't going to observe the Jewish holidays because Judaism as a religion just doesn't speak to me. So if you don't want to read the latest Harry Potter book, watch Dr Horrible or celebrate Valentine's Day, just don't do it. And don't ruin the fun of those of us who are.

Again, there are certainly exceptions. If you're such a Harry Potter fan that you wrote your doctoral dissertation on the first six books, it's certainly noteworthy that you wouldn't read the seventh. And if you want to take part in whatever event or holiday is coming up and can't, you're certainly justified in complaining about it.

I'm explaining all of this by way of leading up to saying that I haven't read the Twilight series, probably won't and probably won't see the movie either. But I'm only sharing this because I find the story of why somewhat amusing:

I had asked [livejournal.com profile] longstrider about the series since he had read the first book, and while he didn't find it very good, he was being a bit more judicious than most in saying why. He had started by saying that Meyer has a different conception of vampires, and as he said what it was, I was thinking that I don't have a problem with different ideas of vampires. Just as long as she doesn't conceive them to be, say, sparkly fairies, I have a pretty open mind-

-just as [livejournal.com profile] longstrider was saying, "And vampires sparkle when they're in the sunlight."

So yes, while it's no doubt hypocritical, I don't think I'm going to be partaking in Twilight, except maybe to see how bad it is. Because really, actually sparkly fairies?
juthwara: (reading)
Making it just before midnight.

I realized a few days ago that while it's very convenient that so many books get released for the Christmas shopping season right before my birthday, I now have a new stack of books to read when I still have a few books from this summer that I haven't read yet. It wasn't a reflection on the quality of the books, but probably more on my state of mind for most of the summer.

Anyway, I'm finally reading The Sharing Knife: Passage. I feel like such a bad Bujold fan for leaving it for so long, especially since I'm enjoying it so much.

But did anyone else have "The Farmers and the Cowboys Should Be Friends" running through their heads while reading it?*

*[livejournal.com profile] longstrider's response: "No, but I will now." Hee hee.

May books

Jun. 4th, 2008 10:16 pm
juthwara: (reading)
The Sharing Knife : Beguilement
The Sharing Knife : Legacy
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Beguilement is a re-read, but while we've owned Legacy for months, I'm just now getting around to reading it because the next book has just come out. The delay in reading shouldn't be taken as a sign of not liking the series though. My love for Bujold is pure and true and I'm enjoying this new world a lot.

Death Masks
Blood Rites
by Jim Butcher
Books five and six of the Dresden Files books. They continue to be a fun series, combining the best of contemporary urban fantasy and noir detective mysteries. Not great literature, but fun.

Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace
For a complete change of pace, the next book in the Betsy-Tacy series. Although it's clear that as Betsy gets older, she's moving away from Tacy and becoming the center of the story.

The Moon by Night by Madeleine L'Engle
The sequel to Meet the Austins, which I didn't like as much. I think it was a combination of L'Engle being entirely too good at describing the hard aspects of being 14 and the fact that I couldn't stand one of Vicky's romantic foils. It was hard to have any sympathy for her attraction to him when I wanted her to push him off a cliff.

April books

May. 8th, 2008 12:44 am
juthwara: (reading)
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Autobiographical graphic novel by the writer/artist of Dykes to Watch Out For, the ubiquitous gay and lesbian comic strip. It revolves around her relationship with her closeted father and her own coming out, moving between her childhood spent in the family funeral home and the museum-piece house her father painstakingly restored, and her college years where she explored her developing sexuality. An excellent book all around.

The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Ironwood Tree
The Wrath of Mugarath by Holly Black
The last two Spiderwick books, re-read because we saw the movie last month. Cute, fun books that will definitely stay in the pile of books for K to read in a few years.

Meet the Austins by Madeline L'Engle
One of the few non-Wrinkle in Time series L'Engle books I read as a child. A thoughtful book about a large, close-knit family dealing with an unexpected addition. A childhood favorite, although I haven't read it in years

Grand Passion by Jayne Ann Krentz
Jayne Ann Krentz writes basically the same romance: modern day setting (usually the Pacific Northwest), male romantic lead is some sort of emotionally deadened, yet extremely successful sort who has all sorts of passion and emotional hurt hiding beneath the surface just waiting to be released, female lead is successful in her own, smaller and more personal way and emotionally open and mature. Usually has an eccentric family or community of friends who are all artistic types, although the lead herself tends to be more practical. Together, their physical and emotional chemistry is too powerful for them to resist. Not exactly great literature, but a quick, thoughtless read that's reasonably literate and amusing.
(When she writes as Amanda Quick, it's Regency England, with the emotionally unavailable lord and the lower-born bluestocking woman who is too involved with her intellectual pursuits to worry about fashion. Otherwise pretty much the same)

Um, I'm sure there's more than this, but I'm darned if I can remember.

March Books

Apr. 6th, 2008 10:43 pm
juthwara: (reading)
Aunt Dimity and the Duke
Aunt Dimity Digs In
Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday
by Nancy Atherton

There are about twelve billion of these books, all very amusing and gentle. It's nice to read a mystery series that doesn't involve murders. I like mysteries, but it can strain credulity to have the protagonist encounter murders wherever they go without developing a nervous complex after the twelfth book or so, at least if they're not a police detective.

Betsy-Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy-Tacy Go Downtown
by Maud Hart Lovelace

One thing I like about my library is the number of classics from my childhood I've rediscovered. I loved the Betsy-Tacy series as a child, but hadn't realized that the series went beyond Betsy-Tacy Go Over the Big Hill. As it turns out, the series goes all the way up through her marriage and my library has the lot (except Betsy-Tacy-Tib, which I should remedy at some point). They're a fun series of books, which like the Harry Potter books have the nice trick of having the writing style grow up with the main character.

The Field Guide
The Seeing Stone
Lucinda's Secret (The Spiderwick Chronicles)
by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
We saw Spiderwick in the theatre recently (capsule review: pretty good!), so I needed to re-read the books. Taken together, all five books make up a rather short children's novel, so it's not surprising I blew through the first three in the last two days of the month. I haven't read these since they came out in 2003/4 and I'm a little surprised at how little I remembered of the plot. But I enjoyed refreshing my memory, and I'm planning to get the next series out of the library soon.

Well! Apparently the secret to reading a lot of books in a month is to read children's books. If only all my monthly book lists were this long.
juthwara: (Default)
Aunt Dimity's Death
Aunt Dimity's Good Deed
by Nancy Atherton

A pleasant little mystery series where one of the main characters is a ghost, the eponymous Aunt Dimity. I'm reading it a bit out of order because those are the books I could get immediately from the library. There are a ton of books in the series, which starts out a tad depressing but has cheered up immensely over time. Enjoyable, lightweight mysteries that haven't even had any murders yet.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
This is an incredibly powerful graphic novel about a young girl growing up in Iran in the late 70s and early 80s before, during and after the Revolution. Like many people, my education in American History rarely got into the twentieth century before the end of the year, let alone past World War II. So most of what I know of the history of the 70s and early 80s is from Doonesbury. Not surprisingly, while I've heard about the Iranian revolution, it was mostly in the context of the 1980 hostage crisis. Just learning about the history behind it was fascinating, and the personal story surrounding it was stunning. Highly recommended.

The Beasts of Clawstone Castle by Eva Ibbotson
Ibbotson is a highly enjoyable children's fantasy author. She writes an excellent lighthearted, yet well-crafted book that I would recommend getting for the 10-year-old in your life, or even reading yourself if you're in the mood for a quick, good read.

I feel certain I'm missing something here. I may well come back and edit if I remember what.

ETA: I remembered!

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Definitely not the fuzzy friendly version from the Disney movie (although I was surprised that probably the most famous sequence in the movie - stepping into the sidewalk paintings - was taken from the book). Mary has some real edge in the book. I think it's going out on a limb to say that the book is far and away better than the movie though. It's perhaps better to say that they both have their individual faults. One way the movie improves on the book is that it has a narrative and character arc, which gives it a point. In the book, Mary Poppins appears because they need a nanny, but any nanny would have done. She leaves for her own ephemeral reasons, and while I'm sure the children learned a lot from her, it's hard to say what she accomplished at the house beyond child care and magical hijinks. She appeared, did a bunch of stuff and left again. This is not atypical of a certain type of book from this time period, but I find I prefer books that have a more connected plot. Or a plot, period.

Also, remember a few years ago when they wanted to revive stuff like old Dick Tracy strips or episodes of The Spirit or Warner Bros cartoons, only to discover that they're full of racial and ethnic stereotypes that were fine at the time, but are appallingly offensive these days? Oh my, they're in Mary Poppins too. Asian characters of the "Me so solly" persuasion and African Americans that stepped straight out of a minstrel show. As with the Little House series, it didn't make me put down the book, but will make me hesitate to give it to K until she's old enough to discuss and understand these things.

(Don't take these criticisms to mean that I think the movie is the best thing ever. As I said, they each have their individual faults, and both provide some enjoyment. But I never saw the movie as a child, so I don't have the nostalgia to improve it for me, and I found that I was ready to put the book down about 3/4 of the way, so it's not a huge amount of enjoyment for me).
juthwara: (Default)
The Glycemic Load Diet by Rob Thompson
Or perhaps a better title, Low Carb Diets for Wusses. This book makes the excellent point that most low-carb diets are based on the glycemic index, which measures how much blood sugar rises after eating 50 grams of available carbohydrates (fiber would be an example of unavailable carbohydrates). However, this can result in absurd results because testing based on an arbitrary amount often has no relation to how much people typically eat in a serving. For instance, carrots are often forbidden on low-carb diets. But the amount of water and fiber in carrots meant that to get 50 available grams of carbohydrates, they had to feed the test subjects eight pounds of carrot. Glycemic load takes portion size into account, so carrots come out much more reasonably, unless you want to eat twenty pounds at one sitting (and at that point, I think you'll have bigger problems than just blood sugar spikes).

This certainly seems like a much more reasonable diet than your average low-carb diet. There's nothing really specifically forbidden. There isn't any nonsense of forbidding perfectly healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. You can even have a spoondful of sugar in your tea or coffee, since he points out that the glycemic load of a small amount of sugar isn't that high. The big boogeyman in this diet isn't all carbohydrates, but starch, as found in potatoes, rice and wheat. But even those aren't completely forbidden. His general rule of thumb is that you save them for after you've eaten other foods so a full stomach slows the metabolism of the starch, and that you eat about 1/4 as much. Also, do exercise like walking or biking 20-30 minutes every other day to activate the slow twitch muscles that help reduce insulin resistance. As diets go, particularly the kind that singles out particular foods as evil, that's pretty darn reasonable. It's still a diet, with all of the issues those entail (deprivation, assigning moral values to foods, etc.), but at least it's not the kind where all is lost if you dare let a morsel of bread pass your lips because you'll no longer be in ketosis.
juthwara: (Default)
I fell way behind (and eventually gave up) on keeping track of books last year during the getting-back-from-vacation, having-houseguests, insanely-busy-leadup-to-Halloween August to October, but I'm ready to give it the old college try again this year.

The Little House series:
Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
On the Banks of Plum Creek
On the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Yes, I'm missing The First Four Years. I never liked it as much. As I said before, it's always fascinating re-reading books as an adult. One thing that struck me as a parent is what a different attitude towards children they had then: be seen and not heard. Don't cry or show extreme emotion. Don't be selfish, which translates into giving away the last rags on your back and having very little right to personal possessions. Even when I was a child, I thought it was horribly unjust that Laura was forced to give her only doll away, and it appalls me even more as a parent.

And yet people grew up to be functional adults capable of loving relationships, despite being raised in a philosophy vastly different than modern sensibilities. Puts some perspective on the sometimes histrionic arguments people have about the "right" way to raise children.

The China Bride by Mary Jo Putney
I blush to include this, but hey, every once in a while a good steamy romance hits the spot, especially on a cold winter night. And that's all I have to say on the subject.

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
I can't say enough good things about this wonderful graphic novel, a must-read for anyone who likes fairy tales. It's a lively and sweet story that starts out in Sleeping Beauty but goes far beyond that.


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